I Got Life! review – French heart-warmer explores a mother's lot

A thread of optimism runs through this comedy starring Agnès Jaoui, in which the travails of Aurore resolve somewhat predictably

I Got Life!
A base note of syrupy sentimentality … I Got Life!
A base note of syrupy sentimentality … I Got Life!
Peter Bradshaw

Last modified on Thu 22 Mar 2018 10.40 EDT

A life-affirmer and heart-warmer from French director Blandine Lenoir with weird moments of very misjudged broad comedy. The French title refers simply to its heroine, Aurore, but its English title is taken from the Nina Simone single. It’s a nice moment when Aurore, played by Agnès Jaoui, dances to that song on her own, with her infant daughters (now grown up) joining her in a kind of dream.

There are successful touches in this film, and Jaoui always has presence, but the base note of syrupy sentimentality is never far away, and it is unfunny and unconvincing when Aurore’s best friend, enraged by the sight of smug older guys with young girlfriends in the street, storms up to them and pretends to be a spurned lover, apparently for a laugh. Aurore herself is separated, enduring the menopause, unemployed, and going through another personal crisis when one daughter reveals that she is pregnant, thus making her a grandmother.

But then an old flame of Aurore’s materialises: a silver fox she once nicknamed Totoche (Thibault de Montalembert). He operates the ultrasound at the hospital and so Aurore finds a way for him to do her daughter’s scan. There’s an amusing moment when they go on a date at an “opera restaurant” where the waiters burst into song, making conversation impossible but creating an oddly appropriate mood music for their unspoken emotions. A thread of optimism gathers up all these ostensible problems and woes into an inevitable happy ending, but it is fundamentally unreal and contrived. There’s an interesting cameo from the philosopher and author Françoise Héritier, who is shown on a video that Aurore is watching, discoursing on how the traditionally envisaged “stages of life” always favour a man’s freedom and a woman’s servitude.